Wednesday, March 24, 2010

To be a compass

For some reason, the following dialog from the movie Mr. Holland's Opus keeps coming up in my conversation. In case you forget, Mr. Holland is played by Richard Dreyfuss and is the new music teacher and Mrs. Jacobs is played by Olympia Dukakis and is the seasoned principal...

Mrs. Jacobs: “Mr. Holland! Just the man I was looking for. We’re forming a textbook committee for next year’s curriculum and I would like to have your ideas and suggestions. We meet next Tuesday in the library.
Mr. Holland: Oh, I’m sorry Mrs. Jacobs. I’m I’m I’m very busy.
Mrs. Jacobs: You know for a good four or five months now I’ve been watching you Mr. Holland. I’ve never seen a teacher sprint for the parking lot after last period with more speed and enthusiasm than his students. Perhaps you should be our track coach.
Mr. Holland: Mrs. Jacobs, I get here on time every morning. I’m doing my job the best I can.
Mrs. Jacobs: A teacher has two jobs: Fill young minds with knowledge, yes. But more important, give those minds a compass so that knowledge doesn’t go to waste. Now I don’t know what you’re doing with the knowledge, Mr. Holland, but as a compass, you’re stuck.

I keep thinking about it because that is what I feel to be the difference between a normal parish and a good parish. A normal Catholic parish either seems to just want to do the basics of the faith or has such deep divisions within what is happening that you have to be part of a "camp" in order to feel a part. It seems that the pastor's constant challenge is to be the compass that keeps the parish together walking in the right direction.


Ruth Ann said...


Fr. Dennis, I just want you to know how much I appreciate that you care so much about the lives of each person you minister to. We need a compass. You (Jesus in you) are exactly what we need.

PS - when are you coming over for dinner?? Seriously, you better give me some dates soon or we'll have to come kidnap you. :)

Sebastian said...

That's a way to put it simply, I suppose... a compass, hmmm.

The priest here at St. Joseph in Astoria preached for a decent amount of time today about the standard 'being a Catholic outside the walls of the church building' today, but several times also implored the parishioners to come to Confession this week. It was something that really showed his concern- and reminded me of you, pointing the way to be fully Catholic in the richness of the Church.

There's a great organist and a decent choir, but unfortunately God's holy people don't sing. Maybe I should sit right up front by the choir to feel like the community is one, singing around me.

I went to a Solemn Pontifical Mass for Life this week at Holy Innocents in Manhattan. Good stuff.